Of all the purchases Old Mutual made in its somewhat reckless global expansion, the acquisition of European life office Skandia in 2006 wasn’t all bad. After all, its successor, Quilter, built from the British rump of Skandia, now has a similar market capitalisation on the JSE to its former parent Old Mutual.

But in fact Quilter bears little resemblance to the Skandia which then Old Mutual CEO Jim Sutcliffe bought. The most obvious difference is that the original Swedish business was ditched quite early on and more than a dozen life insurance subsidiaries were sold — stretching from Italy to Australia...

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